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Will The UK Miss Its 2020 Renewable Energy Targets?

Posted by Jaga - 10 August 2016 Renewables

A recent statement from the National Grid has detailed how the United Kingdom is no longer on track to meet the EU renewable energy targets for 2020.

The statement comes in light of their research into different energy scenarios, as a result of four possible policy approaches. According to this research, even in the most environmentally minded scenario, the UK will still fall short of its 2020 target to produce 15% of its total energy via renewable means.

When considering the National Grid’s scenario with the lowest ambition, it is predicted the UK will miss its target by 9 years. Even when considering the very best scenario, i.e. the greenest one, the UK will still only reach the EU targets by 2022.

The report states that the UK has progressed well in some areas, with wind and solar powered electricity coming along a lot faster than was ever expected. However, the National Grid states in order to meet the EU 2020 target, progress towards electric and hydrogen cars must treble! The report also details how the UK must increase its uptake of clean heating systems (e.g. heat pumps) from 35-95 TWh.

The Government used to state that the UK was well on track to meet the 2020 target; however, in light of recent event such as Brexit, they are now refraining from making this claim, although a spokesperson recently stated the UK was still making good progress.

The UK’s Climate Change Act of 2008, an Act of Parliament, was enacted to help ensure the UK cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. However, if the UK does not impose some tough energy policies soon, it will not achieve this independently set target for long-term CO2 reduction, the National Grid claims.

The spokesperson from Government stated the UK was still committed to the 2008 Climate Change Act, and this has since been backed up by an announcement from UK Ministers which detailed a world-leading step towards achieving this goal, albeit interim.

Opinion on how effective this step will be, however, seems to divide people, with the Committee on Climate Change expressing concern over the seemingly huge mismatch between what the ministers’ aspirations appear to be and the subsequent policies.

Unlike the UK’s 2050 target, the 2020 target is binding to many other countries, all of whom signed up to it, and the EU can make the decision as to whether or not to fine countries that do not reach it. However, the UK may well be safe from such a fine following a Brexit. Although the UK is very much still signed up to follow the 2008 Climate Change Act.

Despite the 2020 targets being seemingly out of reach, the Government spokesperson stated: "The 2050 targets are still achievable, but we need much more momentum.” The National Grid’s report concurs that the 2050 target is achievable, if three technologies are utilised: 22 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear, 100GW of renewables and 20GW of fossil fuel generation with carbon capture and storage technology in 2050. 

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